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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

< Back to Oral History project: Saltwater South: Harkers Island, North Carolina


Emma Rose Guthrie

Emma Rose Guthrie was born in 1933 on Harkers Island to Leslie Rose and Christine Willis. She is one of fourteen children. Her father, Leslie Rose, was a fisherman and boat builder. “Emmer,” or “Em,” as she is affectionately called, spent her days on the water, fishing, clamming, and picking oysters with her father. She was known to sell flounder at the fish house so her father could sleep, and tended to her younger siblings. She sewed flour sack dresses for her sisters and helped cook family meals.

She married Garland Guthrie in 1951, an army man, whom she was devoted to until his death in 2011. On the island, she is known for her poetry describing island times, and serves as the historian for the Huggins Memorial Baptist Church. She was one of the first people to be baptized there and has been a member of the choir since 1971.

Date of interview:

Keia Mastrianni and Mike Moore

Keia Mastrianni

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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